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12 October 2008

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Local MP fights to improve newborn childcare


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Local MP and Health Select Committee member Stewart Jackson has expressed grave concern over the state of specialist neonatal care in the UK as reports show neonatal units are critically understaffed and over-capacitated.

Stewart Jackson MP


Over 80,000 newborns are admitted to specialist neonatal units every year in the UK due to premature birth, dangerously low birth weight, or other serious medical conditions requiring personalised attention. However, a recent study conducted by BLISS, the premature baby charity, found that these newborns are unable to receive necessary care as neonatal units on average are understaffed by one third. Where there is insufficient capacity, these newborns and their families must resort to travelling long distances to access the care they need.

Currently, the accepted standard among healthcare providers is at least one nurse for every patient in adult and paediatric intensive care units. While this same standard is recommended for neonatal units, only three percent are staffed to operate at this level. Even more alarming, sixty five percent of neonatal intensive care units did not contain enough staffed cots for the number of babies admitted.

These conditions bear sombre news, as studies have found a direct correlation between the increased number of babies requiring neonatal care and increased infant mortality rates in the UK.

Stewart, who is a Parliamentary Champion for BLISS, reacted: “It is our responsibility to care for the most vulnerable in our society, and currently we are failing these newborns at the most crucial time of their lives.

“Britain is rated with the second highest child morality rate among the top wealthiest nations in the world, which is an insult to this country and our healthcare system.

“Children and their families deserve better, and the NHS must examine and improve our nation’s neonatal care to protect the defenceless.”

Stewart Jackson was elected in May 2005 to represent the Peterborough constituency in the House of Commons. To find out more about him, his views and activities, visit his website at www.stewartjackson.org.uk

Peterborough UK Community Website - May 2007

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